Bicultural leaders' cultural competence and language skills: Managing diversity by influencing multicultural team processes

by Santiago, Richard, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 279 pages; 3684575


Multinational organizations reported a lack of leaders with cultural competence and language skills who can effectively manage diversity in multicultural teams: organizational teams with three or more members, representing two or more countries. This exploratory qualitative inquiry explored two bicultural leaders, individuals who have internalized their culture of origin and a new culture, to investigate how they used their cultural competence and language skills for influencing five multicultural team processes that were affected by diversity: (a) creativity, (b) conflict, (c) communication effectiveness, (d) satisfaction, and (e) social integration. The two bicultural leaders managed multicultural teams in the United States (U.S.) federal government. One bicultural leader was a civilian who has internalized the cultures from Mexico and the U.S. The other bicultural leader was a military service member who has internalized the cultures from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Both bicultural leaders spoke Spanish and English and had seven years of foreign multicultural experience abroad. This study had a sample size of 16 participants, including eight participants from each multicultural team. One multicultural team had eight out of 17 members participating in the study. The team members represented four cultures: Puerto Rico, Pacific Islands, Norway, and the U.S. The team had seven military personnel and one civilian; seven were male and one female. However, the other multicultural team had eight members participating in the study, which represented 100% of the team. The team members represented three cultures: Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. The team had eight civilians with no military members, and two were male and six female. The findings indicated that bicultural leaders were able to manage the effects of diversity in their multicultural teams if they also had six non-obvious and unique skills: (a) low need for cognitive closure, (b) integrated acculturation strategy, (c) high bicultural identity integration, (d) endorsement of the non-essentialist theory of race, (e) extensive foreign multicultural experience abroad, and (f) the ability to speak two languages. The findings implied that bicultural leaders have the potential to fill the void in leadership with cultural competence and language skills in multinational organizations.

AdvisersRobin Parry; Laura Hutt
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Multicultural education
Publication Number3684575

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